Shelach: Modeh Ani

When I was last at the US Consulate in Tel Aviv, I was in line talking to an American Israeli.  He and I were COMPLETE opposites in every way in life.  Nice guy though, and despite our beliefs being polar opposites, we were able to have a nice conversation about the political/religious situation in Israel.  He said something that stuck with me, which was very insightful about Israeli society.  Israelis HATE actually solving problems.  They push it off as much as possible, hoping whatever it will be will somehow blow over.

And he's right.  It doesn't matter if you're right or left, religious or secular, things keep getting pushed off.  It could be things like the army draft, internal social issues, or minor things like a multi-front war which everybody knew was going to happen eventually.  There was no pre-made plan for "what if we need to invade Gaza."  There are several former commanders complaining that we're not ready for Lebanon.  Now, officials are saying, "if there is a war in the north, expect to be without electricity for at least 72 hours, since we're not prepared, so, if you can, you know... spend 100,000 NIS each on buying a solar panel farm for your house, so you're not dependent on us... that would be really peachy..." … umm … what have you guys been doing all this time?

Truly mind-blowing.  Yet the State of Israel proves once again that Hashem is watching over us, since our leaders clearly cannot.


"Nevertheless, as I (Hashem) live and as My Presence fills the whole world" (Bamidbar 14: 21).

One of my neighbors told me a nice little piece the other night.  Every morning we start off with saying "Modeh Ani": "I give thanks to You living and everlasting King for You have restored my soul with mercy. Great is Your faithfulness."

Commonly, we translate:

"Modeh Ani" - I give thanks

"Lefanecha," to you

"Melech Chi V'Kayam," "Living and Everlasting King."

He said that it could be read and translated, slightly differently:

"Modeh" – I acknowledge

"Ani Lefanecha" – I am before you

"Melech Chai V'Kayam" – "Living and Everlasting King."

In the second translation, we are acknowledging that we are always walking before Hashem, the living King.  Wherever He goes, wherever He wants us, we go with Him, for He is life itself.  And when we are not walking before Him, we are not really alive.

I don't know.  It just hit me that this corresponds to what we say in Tehillim (23:4) "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no harm, for You are with me."

There's a profound difference between one who does mitzvos in order "to make Hashem happy" and one whose life is always with Hashem.  The first is much easier to do, obviously.  He thanks Hashem for what he has been given and davens that it should continue, but his life is still not WITH Hashem.  It's an employer/employee relationship. However, when one changes his outlook in life and wishes a life WITH Hashem, then the entire relationship changes.  He is constantly (as much as he could be) walking with Hashem, KNOWING that He is there with him.

It's not a level which is easy to reach, granted.  But at least we should know that the two ways of reading "Modeh Ani" could refer to the two types of relationships we can have with Hashem in life.  And hopefully, we could someday (soon) reach the second, higher one.

With that, I wish you all an enjoyable and quiet Shabbos!